Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D review

  • Basic gameplay is fast and fun
  • Local co-op is a great time
  • New characters, maps, Skills
  • No way to share your high scores
  • Not much incentive to keep trying
  • Revelations demo is insubstantial

In case you didn’t already know, Mercenaries 3D is NOT a brand new Resident Evil game. Instead, it’s a fleshed-out version of the time-attack Mercenaries mode made popular by RE4 and RE5, in which you try to rack up the highest number of kills before the clock hits zero. There are new characters to choose and a couple of new maps not found in the console versions, but for the most part this is existing RE material converted into 3D and made available on a handheld system.


As a side mode, Mercenaries is great fun. Simply choose a character and map, then try to stay alive as enemies continuously flood the area. Victory comes when the timer reaches zero, but the goal is to kill as many baddies as possible – not merely survive. To really succeed, you need to kill enemies quickly for combo bonuses, plus replenish the time meter with clock-shaped pickups throughout the map. However, the longer you keep the streak going, the more enemies keep pouring in, including tougher baddies like the one-hit-kill chainsaw dudes that terrified us so thoroughly in RE4. This constant balancing act (keep timer going and possibly die vs let it run down and finish with a lower score) makes every single second a tension-filled, white-knuckle experience.

But sessions are measured in single-digit minutes, and in the end a high score is all you can hope for; that’s what made this a perfect side mode, a companion piece to the main RE4 and RE5 campaigns. As a standalone $40 title, with no online leaderboards or means to compare and share your best times, replay value is light. Sure there’s online co-op, but I can’t talk to my teammate as I could in RE5, and again there’s no way to compare my performance with leaderboards so the incentive is slight. The alternate character costumes are cool (especially Barry's super-patriotic suit), but most of them will unlock in the natural progression of the game, not because of repeated attempts. Furthermore, playing on a handheld will lead to the dreaded “claw hand,” as you’re holding R with your index finger almost the entire time. Be prepared for discomfort.

To pad out this fun but inarguably fleeting experience, Capcom’s added Call of Duty-like perks that unlock as you progress. These Skills cover a wide variety of abilities, everything from enhanced healing powers to better gun handling to oddities like “defeat an enemy with ‘7’ displayed on the clock for a time bonus.” They’re a nice touch, but they don’t drastically affect the flow and feel of the game, and I was able to beat every level with mostly A and S ranks using no perks at all. I suppose fiddling with various Skill combinations to achieve insurmountable scores is appealing to some, but again… you can’t post those scores anywhere, and in 2011 that seems flat out wrong.

There are three other issues introduced with this handheld version. First, enemy animations randomly stutter and shake when seen from far away. It’s a very distracting bug that I never recall seeing in the console versions; a Majini zombie or Las Plagas villager will skip around the map as it approaches, then suddenly re-synch and appear right in front of you. Second, there’s a bit too much menu surfing for what’s supposed to be a fast-action portable game. Want to replay the same map after completing it, say for a better score? You’ll have to go all the way back out and reload the map. Why not have a clear screen with three options: Replay Mission, Next Mission and Main Menu? Oddly enough, you can retry the mission if you die, but not if you succeed. Simply put, the interface and presentation are all around clumsy.

The third issue isn’t necessarily related to the quality of the game, but is worth mentioning in case you ever wanted to wipe your save data for the sake of starting fresh. Namely, you can’t. There’s only one save slot, and it cannot be deleted. Anything you accomplish is there forever. Personally, I don’t mind this “feature” in a score-attack game, because why would I want to erase all that data and start clean? But for those who might want to do so, or were thinking of buying the game used, realize that you 1) Can’t reset the save data, and 2) If buying used, it will already have data on the cart that can’t be altered.

Finally, there’s a playable demo of Resident Evil: Revelations included on the cart. “Demo” is a strong word, given that it’s about two whole minutes of walking through dimly lit hallways. You see three enemies, kill them and then you’re done. If you were hoping the Revelations demo would balance the $40 price tag, it really doesn’t. That said, I’m still intrigued by Revelations, as it does appear to be a return to a slower, scare-focused game and not the balls-out action of RE5.

Mercenaries 3D is a perfectly fine game. The underlying mechanics are a lot of fun and the new characters, maps and Skill system make it a more robust offering than anything that’s been on a console. But even these additions don’t justify the hefty pricetag, and with no online leaderboards to spur further playing, we suspect most will move on not long after the five-hour game is complete.

Jun 28, 2011

More Info

Release date: Jun 28 2011 - 3DS (US)
Jul 01 2011 - 3DS (UK)
Available Platforms: 3DS
Genre: Action
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Franchise: Resident Evil
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Violence
PEGI Rating:

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  • LOZ4EVAH - August 19, 2011 7:23 p.m.

    Renting the game for a week and it is actually pretty fun! Sure you can't talk on online co-op but it was fun standing side by side killing not-zombies. The controls are easy and the graphics are beautiful! 8/10
  • Yeager1122 - June 30, 2011 5:16 a.m.

    Wasnt really expecting much out of this but still disspointed to see a mediocre score for another 3ds game especially with its for now limited game library to choose from.
  • mothbanquet - June 29, 2011 5:31 p.m.

    Next week: Gears of War: Horde 3D - Play nothing but Horde mode for £40 Seriously, this seems like a cheeky cash grab to me. Is it just me?
  • punky - June 29, 2011 8:57 a.m.

    "Ocarina doesn't really benefit"......"Honestly nothing I've played was notably better in 3D" Time to stop reading games radar I think.....
  • Spybreak8 - June 29, 2011 3:49 a.m.

    Wow I'm surprised about the leaderboards part, I mean duh right!? Maybe XBLA games have spoiled me, seriously Pinball FX2, Geometry Wars 2 and those challenge rooms for Shadow Complex are a lot of fun comparing your scores with your friends.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - June 28, 2011 11:31 p.m.

    ^ I was going to put it in there, but I feel like at this point, unless a reviewer states how amazing it looks, assume it adds nothing to the experience. Ocarina doesn't really benefit, Mercenaries doesn't really benefit etc. Honestly nothing I've played was notably better in 3D.
  • GringoStar - June 28, 2011 10:56 p.m.

    I don't know why they released this as a standalone game. It probably would have fared better if it was a bonus mode in Revelations and basic things such as being able to erase files, leaderboards (or at least local leaderboards or something of the like), and something more of an oomph. I feel bad for anyone that spends 40 dollars on something that should have been included in Revelations for free.
  • taterboob - June 28, 2011 10:40 p.m.

    I never really gave two hoots about mercenaries in the other RE games (I'm sure that I'm not the only one), so I was really hoping that Capcom was going to pull something out of their sleeve for this release to give people like me some incentive to buy it. Alas, to no avail. The wait for Revelations continues...
  • Psylockerules - June 28, 2011 10:34 p.m.

    as much as id love to stare at Chris redfields huge arms. im still no convinced on the 3DS yet. maybe revelations? isnt chris shirtless in that :P
  • BigDannyH - June 28, 2011 8:41 p.m.

    @HumorTumor "I was beating myself, and that's what I liked" Sounds like Saturday night ...
  • Clovin64 - June 28, 2011 7:42 p.m.

    All I wanted from this was the Mercenaries modes I loved from Resi 4 and 5, in the palm of my hand to pull out for a quick blast on the bus or train, maybe with some new characters, costumes and levels. And it looks like thats exactly what I'll be getting.
  • ConstipatedFlea - June 28, 2011 7:30 p.m.

    And the 3DS just keeps on giving. Guess I'll stick to DoA and using Lizzie Cuevas mugshots in Face Raiders.
  • reson8er - June 28, 2011 7:15 p.m.

    This game reeked of cash-in from the very moment I heard the concept. If they sold it as a budget priced game, most of the flaws I feel could be overlooked. But trying to cash in on the name and timing of release is not cool, Capcom, not cool at all.
  • robertpopovic - June 28, 2011 7:09 p.m.

    I saw a Quicklink video over at and while it did look sort of fun, it didn't look like it'd be worth 40 euro's. Having read this review I'm very much sure it's not worth it. Then again, it's not like I expected anything different of a game that's based on a mini-game that accompanied the previous 2 entries in the series. (RE 3's doesn't count, that one's just a prototype :P )
  • VA1N - June 28, 2011 7:06 p.m.

    This game would have really benefited from a story mode. Hell, it could have been really basic, but something to keep you playing. I just can't justify spending 40 bucks on an add on feature of the last two major releases.
  • HumorTumor - June 28, 2011 7:03 p.m.

    Pretty much what I was expecting. I enjoy Mercenaries in RE4 and RE5, so this is a no brainer for me. Hell, I spent a lot of time in those modes. The lack of leaderboard I'm fine with, as I played those games before I had online,so I was beating myself, and that's what I liked, the challenge of besting myself. Good review, and I'm hoping to enjoy the game.
  • SonicX_89 - June 28, 2011 7:02 p.m.

    Totally fair review. No leaderboards and not being able to erase save data is weird. A proper SP campaign could have increased the appeal of the game.
  • DEsMONd - June 30, 2011 7:35 p.m.

    Still going to but it tomorrow though. Just finished Zelda:Oot and want a pick-up-and-play kind of game so this is it. Getting it new so the perma-save feature will just annoy the person who buys it when I trade it in!
  • philipshaw - June 29, 2011 10:25 a.m.

    Seems fair, going to wait until a big price drop before getting this
  • Cyberninja - June 29, 2011 2:29 a.m.

    @SuspendedIrrelevance you know that PSV might also have a weak launch with games you can already play on other systems right, the only 2 original games i know of that wont also be on ps3 are gravity and sound shapes. So even though i want one i guess i will wait til it has more vita only games since i have a ps3.

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